Monday, December 30, 2013

The Last Days of 2013

Dear Everyone Who Reads This:

Thank you and geez, sorry if that sounds like the beginning of a suicide note, it's not. In fact it's the opposite, this is a hey I'm here and thank you for being with me and for all that you give to me and make me feel even though that sounds kind of corny, annoying, "I'm on my life journey, choosing my path" crap sort of note. I'm not going to make any resolutions except to say there will be changes this year and some will actually stick. I'm posting a few of the posts I had the most fun writing and I highly recommend reading these when you have a hundred other things you should be doing, because that's the same place I was when I wrote them.

Buying Pants With My Dad: The Odyssey Part OnePart Two,  Part Three.

Wisdom From Strangers: The Time That It Was

Sex in The 21st Century: Going Hard

How We're Related: Ding

Eulogy for James Gandolfini: RIP Jimmy G

This year: I learned about my Selfie from my children.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Me and Jacob Marley

I feel like Charles Dickens must have been driving around his old neighborhood, visiting relatives, reviewing his past, bemoaning his present and considering his future when he wrote A Christmas Carol. Does that sound obvious? I mean, of course he was! He was sleeping on the old mattress he peed on  as a kid. He was 13. He was 9. He was 23. He was smelling the smells, walking the walk, talking the talk. He was crying, laughing and popping a boner all within a five minute period. Do you think that's weird? Check out this guy:

Old Charlie pulled this guy out of his own head to share with us. Is there a scarier motherfucker in the history of all literature? Come on. When else would such a character make an appearance than jingley-jangley, hippity happity, merry old Christmas with the very people who represent everything that you are and are not, so help you god. I'm telling you: he was at his childhood home, with a pile of unwrapped gifts he bought after standing in a sweaty, halitosis plagued line only a few hours earlier; he had turned his phone off so he wouldn't have to talk to anyone; eaten dinner with the same people who had changed his diaper as an infant and the new ones who would be changing it again in about 30 years, and then gone to bed at 7:30 because he was "jet-lagged", when this guy showed up in the doorway and tried to set him straight.  Forget about artistic creations, Charles was a reporter!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

For Mo and Everyone Else

Christmas Oldie


Last night Harry wanted to go see Santa. He is nine and has been mulling over this for some time. He still believes, but Darla told him he’s too old to sit on Santa’s lap, and there are kids at school who have told him Santa isn’t real, so he feels a little self-conscious. Mo believed until she was 13, I think, when she wrote him a letter saying she had been told he didn’t exist but she still loved him and believed in him and could he please just leave some proof. Dar loves the idea of Santa but can’t help reasoning: Who can fly around the world in a sleigh with reindeer in one night??
So we went to see Santa. The only other kids in line were two infants and a three year old on a leash. "See Harry?", Dar shrugged and held her hands up. I shot her a glare, while Harry walked away with his hands in his pockets and his head down.
I found him leaning on a column around the corner. “Come on Bub, you don’t have to sit on his lap or anything, you can just go over there and say hey how’s it going.”
We’re here. Might as well just say hi.
I don’t want to.
Really? You might feel sad if we leave and you didn’t even wave at him.
I’ll just email him.
Ok. Well let’s go say goodbye then.
I started to walk back to Santa’s throne, but he didn’t follow. I looked over at Darla who was trying on sunglasses at the Kiosk and looking in the mirror, turning her head this way and that. I walked over closer. Dar! I whispered. She turned her head slowly towards me like I was an annoying paparazzi. Go tell Harry you’ll come say hi to Santa with him.
She looked at me with her big Elizabeth Taylor goggle sunglasses, took one last look in the mirror,  placed the glasses slowly back on the table, and brushed by me in Harry’s direction.
Be nice, I said. I walked over to Santa. As far as Santas go, this guy was the top of the line: real white beard, little chubby, twinkle in the eye. He was sitting by himself.
Santa? I whispered and he looked over at me. I actually got a little nervous myself. The guy’s a superstar. “My boy’s feeling a little shy. He really wants to see you but he’s worried he might be too old.”
Where is he? He got up out of his chair. Dar was walking him over; she had her arm flung around him like they were buddies back in Nam. I pointed with my thumb.
What’s his name, he said quietly to me. I told him.
Harry? He said and waved him over. Hi Harry. Come here, lad. He leaned on the white fence that divided his little area. I thought maybe in real life he might be a farmer, or a plumber. His voice was high, a little strained. He definitely did some sort of physical labor.
Dar kept her arm around Harry and walked over, Hi "Santa", she said.
Hello, what's your name?
He looked at Harry who was still looking at his feet.
Is this your sister?
How old are you son?
Nine! That’s fantastic. And what do you want for Christmas.
A Playstation .
Anything else?
Harry shook his head.
And you’re a good boy?
He nodded.
“I can see that. Your mother told me you are. Come here a second, son.” He let Harry in through the gate and put his arm around him and walked over to the throne. They were talking but I couldn’t hear because the photographer came over and began trying to talk me into a series of photos for 46.99. I shook my head and he said, Just a meet and greet?
Yeah, just a meet and greet, I said. I was trying to see around him to catch what Santa was saying, but by the time he moved, Harry was walking back towards me with a coloring book in his hands. His head was up and he was practically laughing. He could barely speak.
Did he tell you it was all a charade? This from Darla.
Dar, stop. I looked back at Harry, What’d he say, sweets?
He said you’re never too old for Santa.

Party Questionaires

I was invited to a party where I was asked by the host to tell something about myself that most people don't know. I thought of a few things: that I worked for a Private Investigator, that I was in a Bon Jovi music video, that I worked in a sleep disorder center where one of my job requirements was to run an impotency test where I measured penile tumescence while the patients went into REM sleep.
Is that weird?
But then I also kept thinking of people I have met that I haven't ever told anyone about:
A handless sculptor
A homeless concert pianist from a wealthy family
Desmond Tutu
My friend's dad who had a horrible stutter but who had the most beautiful laugh I ever heard
I wonder how much of what we do is not interesting until we tell someone about it and how much is less interesting for the same reason.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Cold Morning

"Good morning everyone, time to wake up, get dressed and eat some goddam oatmeal," I flick the light switch and speak into it in the calm, pleasant, musical tone of a flight attendant, "Don't forget to make your bed and brush your teeth. We hope you've enjoyed your sleep, but it is now over and you need to get up or risk being late to school and start a pattern of irresponsible and undisciplined behavior that will haunt you your entire life and will prevent you from having fulfill-

MOM!, this from Harry. Dar is still asleep with her mouth open. If Mo was here, and if she had a loaded gun by her bed, she would've picked it up and shot me in the forehead without opening her eyes. 

"Thank you and have a beautiful day".

No one ever wants to play. : (

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Santa Baby

Dear Christmas,

   Seriously? I love you so much, don't you know that? We had such amazing times years ago. I was obsessed with you, with everything about you. I thought about you all the time. I couldn't sleep because of you. I wanted you around the clock. But, you know, I'm older now, I'm tired. I need to clear my head a little. Can't you understand that? I don't like it when you sneak up on me, and I don't like it when you're in my face 24/7. I just really need you to back the fuck off. I'm sorry, I hate myself for saying that, but come on baby, it's too much. I can't take it. You're stressing me out. You're stressing me out so badly and we're getting into some really bad patterns that I'm not sure we can get out of. (sigh) I want you, I do, I want to be able to be a good person for you, giving and loving and happy, but you just gotta let me get there on my own, you gotta stop pushing me. Have faith. Isn't that what you like to say? Believe. It'll be good I promise.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Photos Of The Year

At first I thought this was a photo of some miniature dollhouse thing, but then I read about it and realized the brown back-drop is flood water and it was shot from a helicopter. Of this picture, the photographer, Thomas Peter, said "The order we take for granted is a mere illusion in the face of nature's caprices". As someone who lives in earthquake country, all I can say is: Shit.

If you like photography and want to drop down an internet black hole today, check out the years best shots. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

so be it

The summer I was 11, I stayed with my brother Pete and cousins in a cabin the size of a barn, in the middle of the woods, in Ashaway, Rhode Island, 20 minutes from the ocean. Before that we all stayed in my grandparents house half a mile down a dirt road, but by then my grandfather decided enough was enough and we needed to get the hell out. Of course he didn't put it like that; he made it sound like it was not only a privilege, but it was a magical vacation in a land far away. Which it was. No one said: What if they burn the place down, or get attacked by wolves, or meet up with a bevy of pedophiles on the prowl? Or at least if they did, the answer would have been: so be it. Basically they sent us away with a flashlight and a canteen, and told us to scream really loud if we saw the man with the ax.

We slept on the second floor on iron hospital beds with squeaky springs and moldy mattresses: a horny teenagers dream (although we didn't know about that yet). . When it rained we played a game where we weren't allowed to touch the floor; we had to hang from the rafters and if it got too difficult we could jump onto someone's mattress for a full minute-long break; but before we could do that we had to bribe them with an imaginary gift (For example once my cousin Miles told my brother he would install astroturf in his bedroom).

During the rest of the year we all lived in apartments in the city; some of our parents smoked weed, were divorced, divorcing, dead or not around. We argued and got bored and sulked and ganged up on each other, but we also told stories and played music and pretended we were in a castle in Vietnam.  We weren't scared or worried or allergic to anything. All we could think was how lucky we were.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Soldier or Prisoner

A few days ago I did something I've never done before,  something that is both disgusting and oddly satisfying, something that only people in the Army and in prison do: I cleaned the toilet with a toothbrush and a razor blade. Why a toothbrush and a razor blade? I don’t know! Even as it was happening I couldn’t explain it. You know how there are certain moments in your day when you are in the present and involved and there are other moments when you are outside of yourself watching and narrating? This was that second thing. It was like I was sending my self on a hero’s journey and these were the tools I was giving/ given. Adios! Fare thee well! Discover something about yourself that you never knew before and don't come back until you do! (slam)

I'm not a cleaner. I usually put it off until my only options are to either deal with it or set fire to the whole shebang and walk away. I mean, I straighten and tidy. I shove things into drawers and closets and dump all kinds of things straight into the trash, but I'm too busy or tired for more than that. Still, I'm always amazed at how good the world, and life in general, feels when things are sparkling and clear and organized. I feel like it bleeds off onto me somehow and makes me a better person, an upstanding citizen who is responsible and disciplined and on the road to success. 

On a side note, it's strange how many similarities there are between soldiers and prisoners; maybe more similarities than differences. But the differences are huge. A soldier, when he works, thinks: "Yes, Sir, thank you, Sir, I will clean this toilet to the best of my ability, Sir". A prisoner thinks "This is motherfucking bullshit. Why the hell do I have to do this? I don't deserve this". My thinking was much more along the lines of a prisoner. And yet, of course it was my decision to do it in the first place. 


I have been getting into a lot of fights lately, both real and imagined. I feel agitated and annoyed and chafed. Everything feels like a shove. I was at the grocery store the other night, Harry and I went in for a second to get a movie, and when we got out, there was a note written on a napkin on my windshield. "You hit our car the other day when you were parking. A witness saw. My husband wants to press charges. But I don't. Please contact me blablabla". I thought Press charges? Press motherfucking charges? Because I bumped your car while I was parking? I'll go back there right now with a fucking bat!

Freeze that frame.

See the way my face is right now: screwed up and pissed off? Kind of a "Are you kid--What?.. I'll fuckin..."? That's a picture of me getting my button pushed. When I say I've been getting into a lot of fights lately, this is what I'm talking about. 

Okay, back to the scene.

 I looked around the parking lot and didn't see anyone slinking off. I thought, have you been following me? It's dark out, how did you even know my car? I did bump that car. I was parking on a hill! What do you think bumpers are for? Sneaking behind me while I'm with my son? Why didn't you just wait by my car so we could have a conversation like two humans. Go ahead, press charges. The cops will have a good laugh. Then they'll get pissed that you're wasting their time.

I took a deep breath.

Harry says "What?"

Nothing, bub.


Here's a list of possible reasons why I've found myself in so many confrontations:
From Philly
Single Mom
Working for the man every night and day
Been Shafted
Because I'm the oldest
Because I hang out with negative people
Unresolved issues
Combination of all of the above

I was going to say bad timing, but that's not it either and as far as luck, I'm one of the luckiest people I know. I'm an optimist too, so that's not it...

Ssshh, ssshh, ssshhh: It doesn't matter...Calm yourself.


One thing that happens when I am cleaning, or doing anything physical really, is that my mind rests. It doesn't shut off exactly, but it gets to a place where thoughts drop in randomly and out of the blue. I wish I could say that while I am cleaning I go through my personal inventory and examine it carefully, sorting through what needs to be addressed and coming up with solutions that are pleasing and satisfactory to all. I like to think, oh I'm crossing paths with this particular person for this particular reason and it's going to lead to something good or, I understand that other person, why she did what she did, and I needed to have this experience to help me understand this, that and the other about myself. But it doesn't work that way, especially when you are scraping poop off of porcelain. There are no sudden awakenings or brilliant insights; you've just got to get it done. This time the thought that dropped in out of the blue was this: are you a soldier or are you a prisoner? Are you going to be mature and efficient, respectful and thorough, courageous and above all, honest? Or are you going to be disgusted and hateful, angry and insufferable and blame the crusty brown smears on everyone else? 

Monday, December 2, 2013

My Three Sides

Monday Morning rewind:

My dog Lester has a brain the size of a pistachio. Without the shell. Sometimes when I am working, I look down and slightly to my right and he’s staring at me with his eyes glazed and unblinking like someone who has been hypnotized. Then there’s the underbite. Isn’t an underbite always a sign that your parents were brother and sister? There’s also his passive willingness to let Darla dress him up in wigs and baseball caps or to let Harry put a tube sock on his head. He just sits there and lets them.
Oh Lester. Oh Laz. Oh Lazlio.
It could also mean that he is a superior being, possibly a genius. So far above all living creatures that nothing disturbs him. Not even a tuba played near his head while he sleeps. Maybe he is meditative, thoughtful, accepting of all. Yes, cover my head with a bucket and have a chuckle, I am filled only with love.
Of course, if you could listen to his interior monologues, you might just hear wind blowing, possibly the sound of tumbleweeds on sand. And that is all.
Daisy is a pleaser. The moment I open my eyes in the morning, she is sitting up and looking at me. What do you need? What can I do? How can I help? This can be annoying. Nobody likes a kiss ass. Or desperation. But she smiles too. It’s more like a grimace and a snarl. It’s curious, this smile. It keeps you guessing. It simultaneously makes you laugh and feel uncomfortable.
What the hell is happening? I’m talking about animals. I’m talking about my pets on a blog. Should I just keep going?
I hate cats but of course I have one (inherited from Mo) and of course I love him most of all. Why? He’s mother fucking Leroy that’s why. He seems friendly and like he cares about you, and then he shreds your arm with his nails and teeth. Shreds. I have seen him cause more than one adult to cry. He doesn’t care about you or the goddam horse you rode in on, so step OFF.
OK, I’ll stop. I’m done…
I think I just realized I described the three sides of my personality.